I was particularly intrigued by Dron and Anderson’s (2014) exploration of the notional freedoms available to learners in groups, networks, and sets. In groups, learners have high levels of freedom in relation to choice of place and delegation, but the freedoms related to medium, pace, and to a lesser extent content, are directed more by a teacher presence and not necessarily the learners in the group environment. In networks, on the other hand, learners have high levels of freedom to choose content, place and pace, and how and when they engage with others. However, the freedom of delegation in neworks is low and thus puts the learner at a disadvantage should problems or issues emerge in learning activities.
Upon reflection, it is clear that my learning experiences have generally operated within group-based Community of Inquiry (CoI) environments where I rely on the expertise and guiding role of a teacher presence (Garrison et al., 2000), whether that be a teacher or my fellow team mates, to remain on the learning path and move towards the intended outcomes. That being said, part of my Digital Identity Digital Presence (DIDP) plan is to step outside my comfort zone and consciously work to develop the networks I participate in.
Already, Twitter has become a place of connection and learning for me, and it has been interesting to observe the relationships that are emerging between the nodes within my Twitter network. It has also been somewhat exhilarating to take ownership of my learning in the content and relationships I choose to explore in this networked environment. Certainly, I am using my group-based learning spaces as starting points in my networking journey, but this is a sensible strategy being that my hope is to develop strong connections between my work as a Royal Roads MALAT student and as a K – 12 teacher in Alberta. I also take comfort in the fact that, unlike the anonymity of the set, network-based learning allows me to be meaningful and purposeful in exploring and developing my digital identity and presence. I also expect that my presence in group-based learning environments, such as the RRU MALAT program, will transition to networked environments to maintain the connections made during the course of my studies beyond time and place boundaries.
Dron, J., & Anderson, T. (2014). Teaching Crowds. Athabasca University Press.
Garrison, R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in text based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2–3), 87–105.